This content was originally published by Céline Tridon.
Bought out by two Lafuma partners, the Oxbow surfwear brand tends to reinforce its distribution network and to open up to new models, such as phygital.
It was during this period of deconfinement that the hundred employees of the Oxbow brand got to know their new managers. Emmanuel Debruères and Jean-Christophe Chetail, two sportswear specialists, are already associated with the head of Rainbow SAS. Moreover, it is under its aegis that they bought Oxbow, created in 1985 and well known by surfers.
Ready-to-wear, accessories, equipment... Oxbow is in line with the "lifestyle" trend, in a sliding version. Owned by Lafuma since 2005, a subsidiary of the Calida group, it appeals to the two entrepreneurs who have no experience in buying out companies. "We have been working on this takeover since September 2018. Our biggest advantage is the fact that it is a recognised brand, with a large community, French and profitable," explains Emmanuel Debruères.
How did they make the difference? For the director, everything is transparent: "we were aware of our weaknesses (our means were of course less important than those of an investment fund), but we had a reassuring project, both ambitious and realistic. "
The partners have indeed defined the objective of increasing Oxbow's turnover from €30 million in 2019 to €40 or even €45 million in 2025. The amount of the transaction remains confidential.
To accomplish this, the leaders proudly display a three-step plan. The first is to strengthen the business with physical retailers. While Oxbow currently has 25 shops (30 within 4 years), 70% of the brand's turnover is produced by retail partners. "This share will be reduced to 50% of the turnover in the coming years, but it will increase in value. The physical market is tending to become more concentrated," assures Emmanuel Debruères.
Then, the emphasis will be placed on phygital, the right mix between digital and physical, to offer a maximum of services to customers, such as click-and-collect.
Finally, export. To date, 95% of Oxbow's activity is done in France. But within four to five years, the company will strengthen its involvement abroad, starting with the neighbouring countries (Spain, Belgium) and, if the magic happens, it will start exporting. We benefit from the support of employees who have been able to consolidate the company's fundamentals," says Emmanuel Debruères. Today, we need to think about how to build up the brand's strength, to possibly broaden the target. "Without leaving the surfers, Oxbow could come back down to earth and move slowly in the climbing or mountain sector. New summits in perspective.